The Minnesota Department of Transportation has announced that motorists on U.S. Highway 218 between Blooming Prairie and Owatonna may see smoke from crews conducting a prescribed burn on Thursday and Friday, Dec. 14-15.
Motorists will encounter signs as they approach the burn area warning of the potential of smoke in the Bixby and Pratt areas in Steele County. Motorists should be attentive, slow down and watch for the burn crews, who are monitoring these efforts. Prescribed burns are scheduled during optimal weather conditions to ensure safety and effectiveness.
MnDOT performs the prescribed burning of grassland vegetation along many roadsides, which provides for optimal vegetation health. MnDOT officials have stated that healthy roadside vegetation provides safer clear zones, stabilizes soil, conveys runoff and treats stormwater runoff, and they added that healthy roadside vegetation also provides additional benefits such as preserving populations of rare species and making roadsides more attractive. Fire also promotes tall native grasses and forbs that trap blowing snow and prevent it from drifting across the road. MnDOT officials went on to note that native prairie vegetation is planted along the highway right of way to reduce the amount of mowing needed.